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The relationship between gross motor skills and academic achievement in children with learning disabilities

The present study compared the gross motor skills of 7- to 12-year-old children with learning disabilities (n = 104) with those of age-matched typically developing children (n = 104) using the Test of Gross Motor Development-2. Additionally, the specific relationships between subsets of gross motor skills and academic performance in reading, spelling, and mathematics were examined in children with learning disabilities. As expected, the children with learning disabilities scored poorer on both the locomotor and object-control subtests than their typically developing peers. Furthermore, in children with learning disabilities a specific relationship was observed between reading and locomotor skills and a trend was found for a relationship between mathematics and object-control skills: the larger children’s learning lag, the poorer their motor skill scores. This study stresses the importance of specific interventions facilitating both motor and academic abilities.

from Research in Developmental Disabilities

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Reduced attentional capacity, but normal processing speed and shifting of attention in developmental dyslexia: Evidence from a serial task

We report the performance of a group of adult dyslexics and matched controls in an array-matching task where two strings of either consonants or symbols are presented side by side and have to be judged to be the same or different. The arrays may differ either in the order or identity of two adjacent characters. This task does not require naming – which has been argued to be the cause of dyslexics’ difficulty in processing visual arrays – but, instead, has a strong serial component as demonstrated by the fact that, in both groups, Reaction times (RTs) increase monotonically with position of a mismatch. The dyslexics are clearly impaired in all conditions and performance in the identity conditions predicts performance across orthographic tasks even after age, performance IQ and phonology are partialled out. Moreover, the shapes of serial position curves are revealing of the underlying impairment. In the dyslexics, RTs increase with position at the same rate as in the controls (lines are parallel) ruling out reduced processing speed or difficulties in shifting attention. Instead, error rates show a catastrophic increase for positions which are either searched later or more subject to interference. These results are consistent with a reduction in the attentional capacity needed in a serial task to bind together identity and positional information. This capacity is best seen as a reduction in the number of spotlights into which attention can be split to process information at different locations rather than as a more generic reduction of resources which would also affect processing the details of single objects.

from Cortex

Reduced attentional capacity, but normal processing speed and shifting of attention in developmental dyslexia: Evidence from a serial task

We report the performance of a group of adult dyslexics and matched controls in an array-matching task where two strings of either consonants or symbols are presented side by side and have to be judged to be the same or different. The arrays may differ either in the order or identity of two adjacent characters. This task does not require naming – which has been argued to be the cause of dyslexics’ difficulty in processing visual arrays – but, instead, has a strong serial component as demonstrated by the fact that, in both groups, Reaction times (RTs) increase monotonically with position of a mismatch. The dyslexics are clearly impaired in all conditions and performance in the identity conditions predicts performance across orthographic tasks even after age, performance IQ and phonology are partialled out. Moreover, the shapes of serial position curves are revealing of the underlying impairment. In the dyslexics, RTs increase with position at the same rate as in the controls (lines are parallel) ruling out reduced processing speed or difficulties in shifting attention. Instead, error rates show a catastrophic increase for positions which are either searched later or more subject to interference. These results are consistent with a reduction in the attentional capacity needed in a serial task to bind together identity and positional information. This capacity is best seen as a reduction in the number of spotlights into which attention can be split to process information at different locations rather than as a more generic reduction of resources which would also affect processing the details of single objects.

from Cortex

The Association Between Developmental Coordination Disorder and Other Developmental Traits

Children with probable DCD had an increased risk of difficulties in attention, social skills, reading, and spelling. These additional difficulties need to be screened for during assessment and considered when formulating interventions.

from Pediatrics

Perception of Phonemic Length and Its Relation to Reading and Spelling Skills in Children With Family Risk for Dyslexia in the First Three Grades of School

Conclusion: Problems in phonemic length discrimination could be one of the accumulating risk factors affecting development leading to dyslexia.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Representation of letter position in spelling: Evidence from acquired dysgraphia

The graphemic representations that underlie spelling performance must encode not only the identities of the letters in a word, but also the positions of the letters. This study investigates how letter position information is represented. We present evidence from two dysgraphic individuals, CM and LSS, who perseverate letters when spelling: that is, letters from previous spelling responses intrude into subsequent responses. The perseverated letters appear more often than expected by chance in the same position in the previous and subsequent responses. We used these errors to address the question of how letter position is represented in spelling. In a series of analyses we determined how often the perseveration errors produced maintain position as defined by a number of alternative theories of letter position encoding proposed in the literature. The analyses provide strong evidence that the grapheme representations used in spelling encode letter position such that position is represented in a graded manner based on distance from both-edges of the word.

from Cognition

Representation of letter position in spelling: Evidence from acquired dysgraphia

The graphemic representations that underlie spelling performance must encode not only the identities of the letters in a word, but also the positions of the letters. This study investigates how letter position information is represented. We present evidence from two dysgraphic individuals, CM and LSS, who perseverate letters when spelling: that is, letters from previous spelling responses intrude into subsequent responses. The perseverated letters appear more often than expected by chance in the same position in the previous and subsequent responses. We used these errors to address the question of how letter position is represented in spelling. In a series of analyses we determined how often the perseveration errors produced maintain position as defined by a number of alternative theories of letter position encoding proposed in the literature. The analyses provide strong evidence that the grapheme representations used in spelling encode letter position such that position is represented in a graded manner based on distance from both-edges of the word.

from Cognition

Dyscravia: Voicing substitution dysgraphia

We report a new type of dysgraphia, which we term dyscravia. The main error type in dyscravia is substitution of the target letter with a letter that differs only with respect to the voicing feature, such as writing “coat” for “goat”, and “vagd” for “fact”. Two Hebrew-speaking individuals with acquired dyscravia are reported, TG, a man aged 31, and BG, a woman aged 66. Both had surface dysgraphia in addition to their dyscravia. To describe dyscravia in detail, and to explore the rate and types of errors made in spelling, we administered tests of writing to dictation, written naming, and oral spelling. In writing to dictation, TG made voicing errors on 38% of the words, and BG made 17% voicing errors. Voicing errors also occurred in nonword writing (43% for TG, 56% for BG). The writing performance and the variables that influenced the participants’ spelling, as well as the results of the auditory discrimination and repetition tasks indicated that their dyscravia did not result from a deficit in auditory processing, the graphemic buffer, the phonological output lexicon, the phonological output buffer, or the allographic stage. The locus of the deficit is the phoneme-to-grapheme conversion, in a function specialized in the conversion of phonemes’ voicing feature into graphemes. Because these participants had surface dysgraphia and were forced to write via the sublexical route, the deficit in voicing was evident in their writing of both words and nonwords. We further examined whether the participants also evinced parallel errors in reading. TG had a selective voicing deficit in writing, and did not show any voicing errors in reading, whereas BG had voicing errors also in the reading of nonwords (i.e., she had dyslegzia in addition to dyscravia). The dissociation TG demonstrated indicated that the voicing feature conversion is separate for reading and writing, and can be impaired selectively in writing. BG’s dyslegzia indicates that the grapheme-to-phoneme conversion also includes a function that is sensitive to phonological features such as voicing. Thus the main conclusion of this study is that a separate function of voicing feature conversion exists in the phoneme-to-grapheme conversion route, which may be selectively impaired without deficits in other functions of the conversion route, and without a parallel deficit in reading.

from Neuropsychologia

Initial Acquisition of Mental Graphemic Representations in Children with Language Impairment

Conclusions: The authors propose that children with LI are less robust at developing initial MGRs than are children with TL and that this poor ability to acquire initial MGRs likely places them at risk for later literacy deficits.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

A Comparison of Metrics for Scoring Beginning Spelling

The authors investigated four spelling scoring metrics: total words correct, correct letter sequences, correct sounds, and phonological coding scoring (developed by Tangel and Blachman) across two studies with children in kindergarten. The relationships between spelling scores and measures of reading, phonological awareness, and writing skills were studied. The scores from each metric were highly correlated. There were moderate to strong relationships between each spelling score and word reading, phonological awareness, letter name fluency, nonsense word fluency, and writing skills. Additionally, each spelling metric was sensitive to growth across 2-month intervals. The results suggest that these scoring metrics provide an equivalent index of spelling skill at a single assessment point and that phonological coding is most sensitive to growth over time.

from Assessment for Effective Intervention

Reorganizing the instructional reading components: could there be a better way to design remedial reading programs to maximize middle school students with reading disabilities’ response to treatment?

Abstract The primary purpose of this study was to explore if there could be a more beneficial method in organizing the individual instructional reading components (phonological decoding, spelling, fluency, and reading comprehension) within a remedial reading program to increase sensitivity to instruction for middle school students with reading disabilities (RD). Three different modules (Alternating, Integrated, and Additive) of the Reading Achievement Multi-Modular Program were implemented with 90 middle school (sixth to eighth grades) students with reading disabilities. Instruction occurred 45 min a day, 5 days a week, for 26 weeks, for approximately 97 h of remedial reading instruction. To assess gains, reading subtests of the Woodcock Johnson-III, the Gray Silent Reading Test, and Oral Reading Fluency passages were administered. Results showed that students in the Additive module outperformed students in the Alternating and Integrated modules on phonological decoding and spelling and students in the Integrated module on comprehension skills. Findings for the two oral reading fluency measures demonstrated a differential pattern of results across modules. Results are discussed in regards to the effect of the organization of each module on the responsiveness of middle school students with RD to instruction.

from the Annals of Dyslexia

Reading and spelling in children with severe speech and physical impairments: a comparative study

Abstract
Background: Effective literacy skills are crucial in supporting communication for children with severe speech and physical impairments (SSPI). Reading and spelling difficulties are reported to be over-represented in this group, even where language and cognitive skills are age appropriate.

Aims: To compare the performance of children with SSPI on a range of language, reading and spelling tasks with that of their typically developing peers matched for receptive vocabulary and mental age.

Methods & Procedures: A wide range of tasks was developed as part of a larger study exploring phonological awareness, reading and spelling skills. All tasks were accessible to children with severe physical impairments. Two groups of primary school-aged children were recruited, children with SSPI of average intelligence, and naturally speaking peers, matched for receptive vocabulary. Children were assessed individually on language, non-verbal cognition, phonological awareness, reading and spelling tasks.

Outcomes & Results: Sixteen children with SSPI were recruited. Their performance was compared with that of 15 naturally speaking peers, matched for receptive vocabulary scores. The children with SSPI achieved significantly lower scores on reading and spelling measures relative to their naturally speaking peers. However, at least one participant with SSPI scored at ceiling on each task, indicating that SSPI do not preclude the development of reading and spelling, at least in the early stages of literacy development.

Conclusions & Implications: This study indicates that some children with severe speech impairments can develop phonological awareness, reading and spelling skills. However, the data suggest that phonological awareness may not be as good a predictor of reading and spelling abilities in this group of children as in typically developing children. Further research is needed to track development of reading and spelling, as well as the instructional support needed to scaffold more effective skills in these areas.

from the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders

The Acquisition of Mental Orthographic Representations for Reading and Spelling Development

Word-level reading and spelling skills support reading comprehension and writing composition. Accurate and fluent word-level reading and spelling are facilitated when individuals have clear mental orthographic representations (MOR) that permit them to quickly recognize and recall the visual representation of a word, freeing up memory and attentional resources for comprehending or composing text. It is interesting that the role MOR development plays in early literacy development has received minimal attention. This article, based on a presentation at the 2007 Katharine G. Butler Symposium on Child Language, first reviews the literature that supports a sequential view of MOR acquisition followed by recent findings that support MOR development as a unique and independently developing skill. A general overview of three investigations designed to determine the independence and contribution of MOR development to children’s acquisition of word-level literacy skills is provided. Suggestions for further research and initial clinical implications are made based on the results of the investigations and the current literature on MOR development.

from Communications Disorders Quarterly

“Pre-semantic” cognition revisited: Critical differences between semantic aphasia and semantic dementia

Patients with semantic dementia show a specific pattern of impairment on both verbal and non-verbal “pre-semantic” tasks: e.g., reading aloud, past tense generation, spelling to dictation, lexical decision, object decision, colour decision and delayed picture copying. All seven tasks are characterised by poorer performance for items that are atypical of the domain and “regularisation errors” (irregular/atypical items are produced as if they were domain-typical). The emergence of this pattern across diverse tasks in the same patients indicates that semantic memory plays a key role in all of these types of “pre-semantic” processing. However, this claim remains controversial because semantically-impaired patients sometimes fail to show an influence of regularity. This study demonstrates that (a) the location of brain damage and (b) the underlying nature of the semantic deficit affect the likelihood of observing the expected relationship between poor comprehension and regularity effects. We compared the effect of multimodal semantic impairment in the context of semantic dementia and stroke aphasia on the seven “pre-semantic” tasks listed above. In all of these tasks, the semantic aphasia patients were less sensitive to typicality than the semantic dementia patients, even though the two groups obtained comparable scores on semantic tests. The semantic aphasia group also made fewer regularisation errors and many more unrelated and perseverative responses. We propose that these group differences reflect the different locus for the semantic impairment in the two conditions: patients with semantic dementia have degraded semantic representations, whereas semantic aphasia patients show deregulated semantic cognition with concomitant executive deficits. These findings suggest a reinterpretation of single case studies of comprehension-impaired aphasic patients who fail to show the expected effect of regularity on “pre-semantic” tasks. Consequently, such cases do not demonstrate the independence of these tasks from semantic memory.

from Neuropsychologia

Spelling Assessment of Students With Disabilities

Accurate spelling is a complex act that requires cognitive and linguistic knowledge of the phonological, morphological, syntactical, and semantic principles of our language. Students with disabilities frequently exhibit spelling difficulties related to language learning disorders and inefficient cognitive processing. These difficulties often are developmental in nature. Remediation of spelling disorders in students with disabilities requires accurate, comprehensive assessment. Accurate, comprehensive assessment involves the use of both formal and informal assessment measures. In this article, we discuss the theory and research that support the assessment of spelling in students with disabilities and we describe formal and informal spelling assessment procedures.

from Assessment for Effective Intervention